by Alberto Villoldo PhD: The shamans do not practice prayer as we know it. They do not meditate. Instead they go on vision quests and practice journeying…
They go into nature and fast, drinking only water. After a few days of not eating, once they have burned through all the sugars in their system, they slip into that state between sleeping and waking, where reality ceases to be objective and becomes fluid.
In this realm time seems to stop, to warp and fold onto itself, just as it does when we are dreaming. You could be at the foot of a mountain one moment and next magically on a beach, the warm sand beneath your feet. An ordinary person might experience this as a mild hallucination induced by starvation, but shamans retain their awareness and focus in these states making them able to meet masters devoid of physical form who offer their wisdom to them.
The beings they meet are made of light, since their nature is identical to that of the Primordial Light, and they offer their boundless generosity to anyone seeking help. The closest image we have of these beings is that of the angels we read about in the Bible—numinous, translucent, heavenly.
In the Amazon, shamans learn to track in the invisible world of the Primordial Light: just as a hunter can track a jaguar through the forest, they track the masters who can help find the answers they seek. In a state of non-ordinary awareness, the shaman enters the lower world, which is the time-past. Here, the ancestors can help find where someone came from, or help a patient recover a soul part they lost from a trauma in their past.
Similarly, the shaman will enter the upper world, which is future-time. Here, the masters of tomorrow can help discover who a person is becoming and help perform a destiny-retrieval. They can assist those who are ill by finding a future healed state that can guide them toward health.
These luminous beings met along the way can also help a person discover the Primordial Light and find their sacred dream. In the Amazon, this is done alongside a living teacher who helps them travel the realms of the ancestors and the unborn.
In my vision quests in the Amazon, I learned to enter these dreamlike states and within them felt more awake and alive than I did in my ordinary life. I recognized how in the past I sought love partners who made me feel safe and did not challenge me. How terrified I was of death and how that was the reason why I went into the jungle on journeys that were death defying. However, these quests taught me that I could transform the waking nightmares which held me captive for so many years. This awareness was the real treasure and one found first through the act of journeying.
If you would like to hear more stories of shamanic journeying and finding your sacred dream, you can find them in my newest book, The Heart of the Shaman: Stories and Practices of the Luminous Warrior. If you already have a copy it would be a great help to leave a book review on Amazon or from whichever bookseller site you chose.